Truth Or Dare For Mothers

Wouldn’t it be great if mom friends could get together to share some mom secrets that could help us in every day life — but do it every month at a party where we laugh, socialize and relax?

I know this happens informally all over, but I’d really like to start a series of OverAchiever Mom Parties where the focus is on “Trick or Confession” — a fun little game that will help mothers everywhere try out some new tactics for coping with the stresses of parenting, working and maintaining a relationship. It can even be the basis for a segment in the “OverAchiever Mom” show I am creating with your help (click here for more info and to support that endeavor).

Here’s my plan for my first OverAchiever Mom Party. We start out with some appetizers. We open a bottle of wine and have a glass or two. And then one at a time, each of us pulls a piece of paper out of a jar that either says: “Trick” or “Confession.” It’s kind of like Truth or Dare, and hopefully we can have as almost much fun as we did when we were teenagers at a sleepover!

If you get the paper that says “trick,” then you can share one simple little tidbit that makes your life easier.

For example, one of my “tricks” is my way to keep my family’s important 5×7 and 8×10 photos in a safe place that’s readily accessible: I use frames that I can easily open up, add a new photo in front of the old photo which remains in the frame, replace the backing, and put it back on the wall or the shelf.

This isn’t anything remarkable. I’m guessing lots of moms do it. But maybe some don’t, and have experienced the kind of frustration I did when I moved and found stacks of 5×7 soccer team photos, even 8×10 school photos still in the envelopes — years later! My kids were now several years older, so there was no point in displaying them anymore.

And when I took down all of the photos on the walls and on the shelves of my old house, many of them were baby and toddler pictures that hadn’t been updated in years — because life got so crazy when I was working more and my kids were participating in more that I couldn’t keep up with everything.

When I moved and started to put up each frame in the new house, I simply found a more current picture (in that stack of school and sports photos) and put it in front of an older picture — and then placed the frame on my wall or shelf. I’m so glad I put several frames aside in a cabinet for future pictures; when my son came home a week ago with his high school tennis team photo, I grabbed one of those frames with an old baby picture and stuck the tennis team picture in front of the smiling infant and put it on his desk.

The value of this is how quickly I can move the photo from potential clutter to nice decoration, without having to figure out where to safely file away an old important 8×10. Today, when my son texted me from school asking me to email him three baby pictures for a school project, I just grabbed three big frames, opened them up, found the baby picture safely tucked behind the high school picture, scanned them and sent them. I reveled in the organizational bliss of it!

So that’s an example of a simple “trick” anyone can copy.

When playing the “Trick or Confession” game, if you get the paper that says “Confession,” you have to admit to the other moms something you have allowed or done in your household (or not allowed or not done) that causes you to feel guilt, shame or embarrassment. These are usually the things we don’t admit to other moms. We don’t want them to think poorly of us, or stop their kids from playing with our kids. But come on! We all do some of these things some of the time, and we need to admit it to each other to erase the guilt. If we knew we all had these little secrets, we wouldn’t feel so bad about them.

One of my “confessions” is how late my kids go to bed on school nights.

It’s now 12:34 am, and my ninth-grade son is just getting to bed. This is not unusual in our house, for him to get to bed between 11:30 pm and 12:30 am. I don’t like it. It used to cause a lot of stressful screaming from me. I’ve learned to accept it as inevitable because I don’t take electronics like I did when he was younger and I don’t limit my kids’ activities even when it gets out of hand — something I feel other parents probably do better than I do.

In tonight’s case, my son had a tennis meet after school, then came home and ate and did homework for three different classes for hours. Then he played piano and took a shower and went to bed. He takes longer to do homework because he has his phone next to him. Sometimes I take the phone, but usually I let him have it — knowing it’s distracting him — because I feel he’s old enough to try to learn to regulate his own focus.

My seventh-grade daughter just got to bed about a half hour ago around midnight. This is a little later than usual, but she still often gets to bed between 10:30 and 11:30 pm — way too late for a 12-year-old. When she came home from school, I let her read instead of doing homework. Then she had a piano lesson and soccer practice. So we ate dinner late as we usually do; tonight it was about 7:30 pm after practice. Some nights it’s even later. Then I let her FaceTime with a friend to practice a violin duet and spend time at the piano  practicing three different songs — all because she is performing them tomorrow night (a volunteer performance she didn’t have to do, but I said okay and even encouraged it when she was thinking of skipping the piano songs). So she didn’t even start homework until about 10 pm.

Neither of my kids usually start homework until later in the evening because we have dinner late because I allow my kids to be in so many activities. I hate to say no to anything they want to do that I feel is beneficial in terms of academics, music, sports, volunteerism or even certain social activities.

I’m a sucker for letting my kids procrastinate — delaying homework and skipping chores — when they are doing something “educational.” They know it and push it many times. I feel guilty about it, and I used to lash out because of that guilt. Many nights my daughter went to sleep crying because I was yelling at her for putting off her homework and getting to bed too late.

I’ve learned to let it go and accept that I’m not as good as other parents at saying no to evening activities that I consider enriching. Since then, we have sweet, calm late-night talks as she’s on the verge of falling asleep about subjects ranging from climate change to college life.

My stress over letting them stay up late isn’t impacted by my own lack of sleep. I don’t have to wake up with my kids in the morning because my husband gets them up and off to school. I’m a freelance writer and work from home many days. My career as a television reporter has led me to put together a show for mothers — which you can learn about and support it at this link “OverAchiever Mom”  — and I think the show should incorporate a segment on “Tricks and Confessions.” I hope to come up with some good ideas at my first OverAchieving Mom Party.

I’ve already revealed two examples of my “tricks and confessions.” Maybe you can tell me a couple of yours. Share a trick and improve someone’s life; even just a tiny bit is a help for a mom! Reveal a confession and get it off your chest. You may be amazed at how many other OverAchieving Moms do the same thing and feel as badly as you about it. Shed the negative feelings and accept that there is no perfect parenting.

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